Recent service experiences got me wondering how things seem to a “regular” customer, one for whom it is not both work and sport to try to analyze what might be going on behind the scenes. First in this series is a disappointing experience. Here’s the backstory:

I had an important presentation to make and needed to be compelling, persuasive — and although the clothes don’t make the consultant, they can add to or detract from both presence and self-image, so sometimes you want to wear something particularly special for particularly special occasion.

I found something stylish, professional — exactly the kind of thing I wanted — on the website of a fashion-forward, high-end multichannel retailer whose catalog I had bought from a number of years ago. The jacket was quite pricey — more than I had planned to spend — but I hoped it would give me just the kind of lift I thought I might need to ace the presentation.

As is true of many original retailers who go multichannel, delivery times were relatively long, so I paid a hefty additional up-charge for expedited shipping to avoid the risk of not receiving the garment in time.

Dropping the Ball

When the package arrived a few days later, I was a little surprised that the outer box had not a hint of glamour or fashion branding. Yes, inside the box there was tissue, but lots of companies send their products wrapped in tissue.

The jacket itself, although attractive, was creased so deeply in multiple places that it looked as if it had come directly from an overseas manufacturer with an elephant sitting on it inside the shipping container.

What a disappointment! No home steam job would be enough. It would have to go for professional pressing at the dry cleaners and I had neither the time nor the patience for that.

It’s normal to have some creasing in garments that are packed flat, no question about it. But this jacket’s creases were so severe that it made me wonder if this upmarket merchandiser was assuming that every customer has her own butler?!?

The Other Shoe Drops

I returned the jacket. Luckily, I had some perfectly good wardrobe choices in my closet, and the presentation was successful and enjoyable, even without new clothes. But although the retailer emails me at least a couple of times a day, I’d be surprised if I’ll want to do business with that outfit again. It would have to be an extraordinary deal and I would need plenty of extra time to get the purchase into wearable shape.

Despite my professional service experience, I didn’t make a complaint. I didn’t feel a strong enough sense of connection or loyalty — or enough optimism to believe that my comments would actually make a difference. I assume the retailer knows how they’re shipping goods, because surely fussier members of their upscale, used-to-top drawer, top-flight service clientele would have protested by now.

Sadly, given my lack of confidence in them, they wouldn’t know how to win me back even if they cared enough to do it.